An October 2003 trip
to Johannesburg by KenDurham
Quote: This trip is for seven weeks as a Global Guide Exchange participant with RCI.
Restaurant | "Boston BBQ"
However, instead of one long set of serving tables to choose from, the entire area is divided up into different booths. There is a Chinese area, an Italian area, salad bar zone, a wild game (African style) selections, a selection of regular fairs (beef, pork, chicken), a fish department and an entire section devoted to the dessert fanatic.
In the wild game section they had crocodile, duck, springbok, and zebra . Each had a different taste, and none tasted like chicken. I found the crocodile to have a fishy taste to it, quite like shark meat. The duck was just that, duck tasting, it was very heavy and greasy. The springbok reminded me of North American deer and the zebra of moose meat. All around each has a unique different sensation that they brought to my taste buds. Yes, I would eat them all again.
The cost of the meal was R89 (US$12) per person and included a non-alcoholic beverage.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 28, 2003
Boston BBQ at Gold Reef City Casino
14 Northern Park Way
Johannesburg, South Africa
The only evidence that man is there can be seen through either the two-track dirt road or the line of telephone poles leading up to the top of the ridge. As you drive along, you can see various wild animals on the property. Due to the fact that we were there during midday, most animals were in hiding, trying to stay cool.
As we wound our way to the top of the plateau we came upon paved parking lot. We found a spare tree, shade for the car, and then we climbed the stairs to this hidden oasis in the desert.
Large trees offering shade and comfort ad lounging chairs scattered amongst them. As the four of us found a comfortable spot to relax our waiter arrived for a drinks order. Looking up the cliff wall I could see birds circling high above. The cliffs act as a natural nesting area for the vulture called Cape Griffon. They were to far away to see without the aid of binoculars.
Looking away from the cliffs gave a panoramic view across the valley towards Hartbeespoort and the Dam. The landscape is fantastic, the colors vivid and the water so beautiful (see the pictures below).
Lunch was served under the grass roof area of the main building at the lodge. The resort on Sundays serves a buffet style meal. There is the standard salad bar, with some fruits (in season) and a variety of cheeses and cold meats. The hot food section had various dishes, but my favorite was the ostrich stew. At the lodge they make the stew using the neck of the bird. I know that for two reasons, firstly when eating I had a vertebrae in my portion and secondly I spoke with the owner and verified it. I also learned that on Friday nights (with reservation only) that they serve ostrich steak. Finally the meal ended with a dessert table that had a varied selection for the sweet tooth.
After the meal we retired to the lounge area at poolside to finish our drinks. This was a great afternoon of relaxation. On the return trip out of the compound we saw a herd of blesbuck grazing in a field.
Leopard lodge offers meals and accommodations. There are three buildings on site for staying overnight at, the ‘Motswedi’ sleeps 4 people, the ‘Khaya’ sleeps 14 and the main lodge ‘Griffon’ sleeps 6. This is NOT a place for children to stay overnight. For more information visit their website.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 11, 2004
PO Box 400, Broederstroom, 0240, South Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa
Attraction | "African Footprint - Part 1"
WOW! What a show.
WOW! What a performance.
WOW! What a message.
Gold Reef Theatre proudly presents the world famous musical "African Footprint". That is what the billboard should, would and could read for this play. Richard Loring’s lasting tribute to the people and land called Africa is a landmark that should not be missed. This musical brings to life the history and culture of a land that is so diverse that one can scarcely take it all in in just one sitting.
From the depths of the emerging Children of Africa through the fireside chant "Kealebogo", from the bushmen and Sophiatown to the dueling footprints and Pantsula sport, finally returning full circle to the Children of Africa. This play is explosive in its delivery of the history of the people. It varies from the fast pace of the stick dance to the hard breaking love song of "You, Me".
Don Mattera poetry that emerges through out the play brings the various aspects of lives of the people to life.
This land, South of Africa,
The whole land
each grain of sand
North to South,
East to West
The given earth, the best land
The prostrate valleys,
The angry mountains,
The smiling hills
This beautiful, beautiful, beautiful country
Must be healed
The journey of the musical began in 1995 when Richard Loring attended the opening of "Miss Saigon" in Australia. From here he saw the need for a similar story for South Africans. Richard found other dedicated people with similar dreams, Don Mattera brought his poetic skills, Dave Pollecutt joined the adventure to add his musical talents and Debbie Rakusin and David Matamela brought the cast to life with their unique brand of choreography.
Finally, on the Eleventh of May 2000 the breath of life and the exuberance of the play exploded on the world at the Globe Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa. From that point on it grew and grew until today it has become an international success story.
Come join the journey with me ……. (see part 2)
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 3, 2003
Gold Reef Ctiy
Johannesburg, South Africa
Attraction | "African Footprint - part 2"
A blackened stage, a time before time began. Your senses are impregnated with one view. There seemingly hanging in space is a relief map of the African continent, where all life began, where time began.
Slowly this sleeping giant awakens. A slow beat of a solitary heart is heard in the distance by the beating of a drum. As the drummer continues the words are repeated "this beautiful, beautiful, beautiful country, South of Africa."
Man then conquers and becomes the warrior of the land. The words of the song state "When the Sun first rose, it found us awake and waiting. We rode the wind, we silenced the hurricane. Look at us, we have been here before."
Out of any Garden of Eden must come conflict and this is heightened by the presence of a warrior, joined by a woman and a second warrior trying to become part of the twosome. Thus is born the stick dance. It is a rite of passage for the man. Using sticks and the stamping of feet leads to the building of a fire and man’s survival.
Even early man recognized in his need that there is a higher being to give thanks for his blessings. To express that the fireside chant "kealebogo" came into existence.
Searching for their roots even as early man began there was that need to know about the past and the future. Each one was asking the other – "where are you from – where are you going to?" – The solitary flute awakens all in the song "Inyoni Yophezulu."
This theme continues to build with the addition of more pipes and mbrias. Finally the crescendo cumulates with the wail of the saxophone bringing us into the twentieth century.
Quickly the scene evolves into Sophiatown. The rhythms are created the same traditional way, with tapping replacing drumming and the saxophone replacing the pipes.
The only visible fire is in the enthusiasm of the men and women through their energetic music and dance. This carries on though out the night until a lone woman appears looking for her husband. She pleads with him to come back home in the song "Buyani Madoda."
He does not respond and ends up in jail. Here another struggle emerges once again. Man verses man. Coming for different worlds, having different values, wanting different goals, the struggle continues. Testing each other through feats of strength the two men resolve their differences.
And the journey continues in part three.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 6, 2003
Attraction | "African Footprint - part 3"
“You, Me,” depicts the other side of the ongoing struggle from the two women’s point of view. The man’s wife comes from a simpler way of life: raising a family, a home, gathering food--the daily routine of survival. While the woman from the glitzy nightlife tries to draw the man into her web. In the end they realize, like the men, how to resolve their differences, because they are really the same.
As people of Sophiatown were expressing their life through tapping another form of expression was developing in the mining camps. It was the gumboot dances. Eventually both forms would meet and the struggle would continue between the tapers and the gumboots. Both groups try to out dance the other, but finally they realize it can not be done and a harmony is built between themselves.
South Africa is infatuated with football (soccer) and the youth of today have continued their self –interpretation of their historical culture. The Sophiatown dance and the gumboot dance has been replaced with Pantsula. Again, a fast paced dance which celebrates the people’s life.
We have now come full circle and the Children of Africa celebrate the same way that they had started – with pride and diversification. The finale states this in four lines:
We look at the dawn and it’s an African dawn,
And we feel like we feel – ‘cos we’re African born
And we’re proud, and we’re home
And we’re proud to call Africa home.”
Visit their at this website.
On Friday night we had attended the performance of the musical "African Footprint" (see the separate article) and had supper at the "Boston BBQ" restaurant (see the separate article).
On Saturday afternoon we arrived to experience the outside venues. We headed directly to the train station just inside the gates. This was a short ride around the amusement park that allowed us to see an overall view of the place. When we disembarked we headed for the shopping area. Here we found a wide variety of shops, from precious stones to copper clocks to the usual carnival-type gifts.
One of my goals in visiting South Africa was to see a gold being poured and to tour a gold mine; well, now was the time. After seeing the pouring of the gold ingot, we each were offered the chance of picking up a gold bar with just two fingers. You could only use your thumb and index finger. Anyone who could lift it would "win" the value of the bar in cash. Well, since they had started the tradition, over 3 million people have tried and no one has won. I added my try … Oops, it slipped.
After seeing the gold being poured in to the brick mold, I had the chance to go down the old mine shaft to the ninth level and take the tour. It was exciting to see the old conditions of the mine and what the men had to work in. Near the end of the tour there was a man dressed as a miner and he showed us how the men had to work at making the hole in the rock for the dynamite charge. It was heavy labor and appeared to be quite dangerous.
There is a bank located at Gold Reef City that specializes in unique gold items. I paid them a visit looking for some unique South African currency. I found out that today the largest denomination bill in South Africa is a 200 RAND note. It was here that I was able to attain one for my collection.
In Gold Reef City’s town square there are different groups performing throughout the day: the Gold Reef City Show Girls, Gumboot Dancers, Traditional Dancing and the Town Square Band – called Unity.
There are lots of rides for young people as well. Remember to bring a bathing suit (swimming costume) for the day, as you will get wet on some of them.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 3, 2004
Gold Reef City
Shaft 14, Northern Parkway
Johannesburg, South Africa 2159
+27 11 248 6800
Activists, such as Nelson Mandela, were jailed for their beliefs. Others died by the thousands. The segregation in North America was minor compared to that of South Africa.
Finally, that came to a legal end in 1991. Then we see Mr. Mandela being released from jail and eventually being elected President of South Africa.
In 2002, the Apartheid Museum was opened here in Johannesburg. It is a modern cement building and the exhibits inside can be shocking and are definitely an eye-opener.
The quote outside the buildings is from Nelson Mandela and it reads, "To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains. But to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." There are six columns (pillars) stretching skyward outside the entrance. Each column has a single word inscribed on it. There is the column of Freedom, Respect, Responsibility, Diversity, Reconciliation, and Equality. Each of these describe what the museum is representing to the people of South Africa and the world – for the future.
Segregation - It all starts when you pay for your admission. You are randomly given an entry chit that is either white or black. That determines which door you must enter to get into the museum. Our group found that we saw the same things in both entrances, but they were put in different perspectives. Through either door, we saw how it started in 1948. I went through the colored/black door and everything was extremely plain and stark in nature. Rita went through the white door and it was a very updated and modern display.
After going through this short introduction, you head outside to walk up an external display of mirrored pictures of people. There are anterooms with drawings in them as well depicting South African history.
As you enter the final section of the museum, you see a cement wall with the definition of "apartheid" on it. It reads "the system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race in force in South Africa 1984-1991." Then you are taken on an in-depth study of the entire apartheid movement from its conception to its final ending. You see how the peoples were oppressed and finally how they won back their freedom and dignity.
Plan on spending a good portion of your day here - it is not a museum that you can rush through. Unlike many historical museums, the Apartheid Museum is from current history and it demands your time and attention.
Hopefully there will one day be a website on the museum so that more in the world can share in its value.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 4, 2004
Northern Parkway & Gold Reef Road 2001
Johannesburg, South Africa
+27 11 309 4700
There was an UNEXPECTED CHANGE to the weather over the weekend. The temperature plummeted to under 10 degrees Celsius at night and did not get much warmer during the day. This is a major dilemma for people here, as construction of homes and offices are not designed for cold temperatures. Also, there are very few heaters in homes or offices.
So the major thing on the weekend was for me to find WARM clothing. There is a chain of department stores called "Mr Price" that are similar to K-Mart in the USA and Zellers in Canada.
Friday night after work we headed out to the Gold Reef City Casino Complex.
We ate supper at the Boston BBQ Buffet Restaurant (see separate article). I
only made it to the table four times for food. First time for the fish, second time for game meat, third time for game meat (yep it was that good) and fourth for the dessert table. A great selection and the meal was fantastic.
We were then off to the theater located in the same building and we watched
the musical production "African Footprint." The show was exceptional (see
separate articles). This made for a very late evening, as it was around 11 pm when we arrived home. Remember we get up at 5:30 each day to go to work.
Saturday morning came and we left at 10 am to return to the Gold Reef City
area. However, prior to getting there we stopped at the new Apartheid Museum.
There was a dark time period from 1948 to 1991 in the country’s history. This museum is the reminder to all who visit there of what can happen to a culture when a minority of its people seize control of it (see separate article).
Then it was on to Gold Reef City again. It is also an amusement park (see separate article). Saw gold being poured and had an underground tour of the old gold mine. We went back to Heatherdale late in the day and had a braai around 8:30pm. Then off to bed by 10PM.
Sunday arrived far to early and I was up at 6am. Another fantastic day of weather - sunny and warm. We left around 10am for the Leopard Lodge and a 1pm luncheon (see separate article). Our driver Mandy got lost, however we did arrive about noon. The four of us had a nice relaxing time and saw many eagles flying high up on the cliffs' edge. Dinner was a Buffet. I only went up 3 times... hehehehehe (don't worry) 1st time was for salads, 2nd time was for main course and 3rd time was for dessert.
After lunch we went back to the open air market at Hartebeespoort (I was there on the weekend of Sun City) where I bought some wooden objects for our home. Here you barter for everything. The smart shopper looks at all stalls and then returns to purchase.
We were back at Heatherdale by 6pm and gone again by 6:10pm. We were off to "Sunday Night Live". This is a monthly dinner / music event put on by a local church "Riversong church at Fourways". This months’ theme was "Jukebox Jive Night " music, the group playing was very good. It was over by 8:30 and we were home by 9pm.
There is the cable-car trip on the longest single cable in Africa. It is on the Arendsnes farm. In English that means "Eagle’s Nest." This area is the home of the Black Eagle, which is on the endangered species list. This eagle has a white V of feathers on its back and white panels under its wings. It is by far the largest of the eagles in South Africa, measuring up to 84cm in height. You may also see the African Hawk Eagle (see picture below) in this area too. The hawk eagle is dark with a white spotted breast and grows up to 65cm tall.
On Sunday mornings the rumble of hundreds of motorcycles can be heard throughout the region. It is the weekly ride to the dam for breakfast from Johannesburg and Pretoria for the men and women bikers.
There are the many game preserves in the region. Visits to the Cradle of Humankind, the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, Leopard Lodge or the Planesberg National Park are all within short drives of this area. For family water fun, there is the lake, of course, but a short distance away is the Valley of the Waves located in the Lost City of Sun City.
In Broederstroom there is the outdoor flea market. Be prepared to barter, for it is the way of life here. Be prepared, for there are all kinds of salespeople here as well. The vast majority are honest. However, beware: there are a few that will approach you for donations or to pawn gold or silver trinkets. My suggestion is to be firm, say "NO," and walk away. Yes, they will follow you and keep trying, but by staying firm they will eventually leave you alone.
Definitely the vendors in the stalls are great to deal with. Each stall carries a wide variety of African items, from artwork to zebra wood carvings and from "Zulu" tribal reproductions to African metal works or stone carvings. Some have suggested prices on the articles, others do not, regardless you still barter.
It will benefit you to walk through all the stalls before buying, even if you find that "perfect" item. I visited the market on two separate occasions during my 7-week stay and found that prices varied greatly. One of my goals was to purchase a set of African drums similar to bongo drums in North America. On my first trip I found a pair for 700Rand. Bartering brought it down to 500Rand, still more than I wanted to pay. During my second visit to the market I spotted a pair of drums and by bartering for them ended up paying 130Rand. In US funds at the time I went from $100 to $18 in cost – great savings.
Try it, it’s fun!!! Be fair, they do have to make a living. Great bargains can be had.
For more information visit their website .
Quispamsis NB, New Brunswick